« ÎnapoiContinuați »
I am not going to go into any more detail on this matter. This is just a part of the violations.
The Bibb Manufacturing Co., of Macon, Ga., of which Mr. Anderson is president, was mentioned here yesterday. To show you the tactics that they use, during the birth of the N. R. A. cotton code Mr. Anderson agreed in Washington along with the other emplovers as to what he would do, and he went back down there and in the weaving department--for instance---there are two weavers weaving side by side in the mill, and both of them would not be on the pay roll. Just one of their names would be on the pay roll as getting $12 a week. But when that worker got his envelope he would take $6 of it and give it to the other worker. That was in order to get by paying the code minimum to show on the pay roll that the worker received $12, although he had to divide it.
Mr. Wood. In what mill was that?
Mr. Johnson. I don't know how many instances there were when that happened, but I think the Textile Labor Relations Board came in on that. I don't mean the Textile Labor Relations Board but the Breer Board.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, these reductions in wages and longer hours are certainly making it hard for the workers down South as well as in the North and are making it hard for everybody. It keeps us workers from buying the necessary things of life and, therefore, keeps down the purchasing power. And unless something is done it seems to me that before next spring and summer there will be a wave of strikes in the South such as there has never been before, because from my observation in part of Georgia and South Carolina, where I contact mostly, those workers are going to rebel.
My friends, I believe it is the duty of Congress certainly to try to prevent those things, because strikes and lock-outs, and so on, have their effect upon the business of the country and an effect upon the industry. And the workers in South Carolina believe that this Textile Act will prevent those things. I say that because the workers just cannot take everything. They can go on to a certain extent, but finally those people will become unruly and unreasonable and there will be a tremendous wave of strikes in the South, and perhaps worse than there have ever been before.
If all of you gentlemen could just go into those communities and live in them like I do and like the rest of us do, you could express the same idea, because day after day the workers are coming to you and telling you that they cannot live, and telling you how terrible it is to try to get bread, and the hours are being increased and the work load increased and the wages decreased. It is having a bad effect and it will break down the morale of the people. Those people are American citizens, but it is going to break down the morale, and it will break down their confidence. If we can keep the confidence in the Government we will certainly go along better than if we had people who resort to anything in order to try to get the necessary things of life. You can understand it yourselves.
Let us say that I am a worker in a mill and I cannot make enough money with which to buy bread and clothes and shoes for my children. And many of those workers have large families. Sometimes there is only one to work, and when he makes only nine or ten or eleven or twelve or thirteen dollars you can see that it does not go very far. Finally those pelple will become unruly. When a man is hungry and his children are hungry and they do not have sufficient clothes to wear to school in order to get an education, something is bound to happen, because when the children go hungry it will put into the mind of that man.
That is what we attempt to prevent. We want to prevent those things, if possible.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the National Textile Act is supported by the majority of the workers. It is supported by many businessmen, because those businessmen understand that their business depends upon the worker. In South Carolina I am satisfied to say that there are about 55,000 to 60,000 textile workers urging that this bill be enacted into law in order to prevent a large wave of strikes and to prevent the suffering and the destitution of these workers. And in regulating the hours of labor and regulating the wages it will assist in regulating the entire industry and put the manufacturers themselves on their feet.
I think that is all I have to say. We urge that this bill be enacted into law in order to prevent strikes. We believe that with this law and with the National Labor Relations Act—of course, this law carries some of the same features as the Wagner bill in the National Labor Relations Act. But we believe that these two together will prevent at least 90 or 95 percent of the strikes in the South.
Mr. Wood. I was interested in your testimony about the company and the company activities, and that some mills down there had company stores, company churches, company doctors, and even company undertakers. Is that in your home town?
Mr. JOHNSON. Well, not exactly. In my home town I don't think they have the company undertaker.
Mr. Wood. How about the company churches? Isn't it a policy in some places for the company to urge the employees to attend church and their bible classes? Is there a condition such as that, as
a I have been told, that some of those mills have their company churches and stores and that the employees do not dare stay away from the bible class?
Mr. JOHNSON. That is right. And one of those is in Macon, Ga., the Bibb Manufacturing Co.
Mr. Wood. For fear it would cause the displeasure of the employer and by so doing might lose his particular job?
Mr. JOHNSON. That is right. In several towns it is the rule that if you don't go to church on Sunday you don't go to work on Monday.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. That is just the opposite of what they have in Russia. Here they make you go to church whether you want to or not but in Russia they won't let you.
Mr. Wood. I don't know which one is the worse.
Mr. RAMSPECK. I am asking with reference to this church situation, do they make you go to any particular church, no matter what denomination you belong to?
Mr. Johnson. In many of these mill communities there is only one church.
Mr. RAMSPECK. Who decides what kind of a church it shall be; that is, what denomination?
Mr. Johnson. If that is the only one there, the owner expects you to go to it.
Mr. KELLER. What denominations are those churches?
Mr. KELLER. There is one more who wishes to be heard this evening.
STATEMENT OF MR. JOSEPH R. WHITE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED
TEXTILE WORKERS OF AMERICA
Mr. White. My name is Joseph R. White. I am vice president of the United Textile Workers of America.
Before I start making this statement I want to say that I have heard so much about the South that I just want to bring you back North again for a while.
The data that I am going to present to you covers part of Pennsylvania, it covers all of Vermont, a part of Massachusetts and all of New York.
Mr. Chairman, and members of the Labor Committee of the House of Representatives:
I am going to give you a short résumé of the conditions in the textile industry in the territory in which I have the privilege to supervise. I am not going to name the mills, as that has been covered in the brief given your committee by President Thomas F. McMahon.
I cannot understand, for the life of me, where men like Mr. Gilbert, who spoke before your body on Monday, representing industry of 14 southern States, get the idea that 92 percent of this industry is conforming to former code provisions. In my territory, the carpet mills have reduced wages 12 percent, and have increased their hours to 48. Some of the silk mills have increased their hours to 45, 48, 50, 54, and 55, in some instances going from four to six looms. In other departments, there is an increase of work load, in some instances, of 20 percent. Some woolen mills in the territory have increased hours 45, 54, to 60. We have one knitting mill which has increased its hours to 54 hours, paying the girls as low as $3, with a maximum of $13.
The break-down in the synthetic yarns has been mostly by increased machinery. In many instances, employees are called in mills and asked to take a wage adjustment, which is always a decrease, as the management states, in order that they may meet their competitors.
I now find that again, as in 1931 and 1932, the banks are sending engineers into mills to see how the efficiency is, and in some instances reductions in wages are recommended. "I have also found that because the Congress of the United States has passed old age security, that an employer in my territory has employed engineers and is now classifying his workers A, B, and C, the latter being the slowest workers, and these are being laid off, as they state, because of the insurance their expenses will be increased, and they must have efficient workers.
I cannot understand, for the life of me, why northern mill men should oppose this kind of legislation, as all I have come in contact with during the N. R. A. and since the decision of the Supreme Court, privately have said that the N. R. A. was a blessing to them. All of the northern employers ought to be here boosting for this measure, in order to be sure that the competition of hours and minimum wage would be eliminated.
It was amusing on Monday to listen to Mr. Gilbert state that the efficiency of the southern mill workers was 33 percent less than that of the northern workers. To me, that is an insult to the southern workers, but if the employers of those 17 States which Mr. Gilbert represents think that they are telling the truth, then they ought to tell their customers, so that the buying public would know that if you wanted efficiency, you would have to come North.
I trust that you gentlemen will see the wisdom of reporting the Textile Act, H. R. 9072, favorably.
What I had in mind saying about this particular mill and this new insurance clause is that right after Congress passed the Security Act, our State has gone along with it. Employers now have to make their reports, of course, so they bring in these engineers in order to cut down the overhead, or cost of production, as they call it. They class the workers A, B, and C. The fast worker is the A class, B is next, and C is the slowest.
It happened that a girl who was at a meeting that I addressed at a meeting in this city in New York State was very active in talking to girls about joining the union. The following Wednesday she was classed in class C.
I brought the case before the New York Regional Board, and the management of this company told the board that because the Government is increasing the cost and putting all of this legislation on them that they must lay off these workers and take on new workers with prospects of making them “A” workers instead of “C” workers. That case is pending there, and I am not certain as to what is going to happen. I mean I am not certain what is going to happen with the Commission. I know what is going to happen if she is not taken back.
Mr. KELLER. How old is she?
Mr. White. She is 27 years old, and she will be in the scrap heap if Congress does not do something to e iminate these conditions that some of these employers are trying to bring about.
We have a mill-and I have the name here, and I know that our good friends who are listening would like to know the names of some of them. But we have a silk mill in Fulton, N. Y. They came here to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and borrowed $100,000. They had not had it for more than 2 weeks when they went back to Fulton—that is the Fulton Silk Co.—and they reduced the wages of the weavers from $1.60 per 100,000 picks to $1.50 per 100,000 picks. I could go on and name several of those, and I have them all here for your committee, showing the name and town and just what their salaries are and what they are making.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. What do those employers do with all the money the Government furnishes them?
Mr. White. In this instance he is going to build a dye house so that he can better compete with Paterson.
Mr. SCHNEIDER. Are they increasing their capacity as a result of these loans by the Government?
Mr. White. Not in my territory. When the men come here they are like the business agent. They call themselves. I am convinced they tell the truth to this extent.
Did you ever go to a chamber of commerce meeting?
Mr. WHITE. I was there 1 day under an assumed name as a guest. The principal speaker gets up and he begins to tell the people how successful he has been. Then everybody agrees with him and they begin to tell how successful they are. But they don't say how they do it.
Just as soon as the N. R. A. went into effect many mills in western Massachusetts as well as in New York increased their machinery; increased machinery went into operation. Where they have not increased machinery they have taken the small pulley off and put on a larger one. That has increased the speed of the machine.
So in every instance the worker has increased his output in these particular localities.
This Fulton mill about which I am talking is building a dye house. This fellow also runs a mill in Trumansburg, N.Y. I also understand he is going up into Ogdenburg, N. Y. They are all run-away mills from Paterson, N. J.
This mill that is mentioned here in my statement, that is, the knitting mill, is a mill that comes from one community to another to avoid paying wages. I happen to have had 2 years of experience as one of the labor commissioners of my home city, and it was comical to have men come before us in this fashion: They would first get a letter from the chamber of commerce as to the amount of building and floor space, and then they would come in to investigate and say to us, "Can you raise $5,000? How much rent can you allow us?', and so on.
I did not make a very good commissioner because we did not bring that kind of industries there. Nevertheless, those are the kinds. And I feel that if we are going to stabilize the industry that we have to have legislation such as we had under the N. R. A. or such as we have in this particular bill so that these men cannot chisel.
And when I say chisel, perhaps it is the common expression used since N. R. A. went into effect. If we have a good employer—and there are some in my territory—that wants to pay and wants to go along properly, there are two things that are up to him. In the first place, we haven't very many employers. And if in this mill something is happening-and I am talking about my own territory again-and they are going along in fair shape and paying fair wages, and something happens that the dividends are not large enough, the bank tells them what to do. And I can qualify this statement I am making. The banks tell them they must cut wages. And when they cut wages, then the next fellow comes along and does the same thing.
I was called into a mill about 4 months ago because they could not meet competition, and he asked me could our people take a reduction on underwear of, let us say, 20 cents a dozen. When I say 20 cents a dozen I mean 20 cents to manufacture the dozen; in other words, to come from $2 to $1.80. They said this would give at least 6 months steady employment to that department.
After 3 weeks the employees accepted that particular reduction. They worked 4 weeks steady. But now there is a falling off in the